Amherst, Massachusetts

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Amherst, Massachusetts

Introduction to Amherst, Massachusetts

The town of Amherst lies in the Connecticut River valley in Western Massachusetts, about 87 miles east of the state capital of Boston and 23 miles west of the city of Springfield. The town is home to the main campus of the University of Massachusetts (UMass) and is also home to Amherst College and Hampshire College. Unusual for towns of its size, Amherst maintains a traditional town meeting form of government, although the annual meeting is made up of elected representatives of each of the town's 254 precincts. Recent attempts to switch to a mayor-council form of government were rejected by voters in the town.

Originally settled in the 1730s as part of what is now the neighboring town of Hadley, Amherst became recognized in 1759 as a separate entity and was incorporated as a town in 1775. It was named in honor of Lord Jeffery Amherst, a hero of the French and Indian War. From its inception the town's focus was directed on education, an emphasis brought to fruition by the evolution of Amherst College from the former Amherst Academy in 1821, and the establishment in 1863 of the Massachusetts Agricultural School, later to become the University of Massachusetts. Over the years, Amherst has been home to an unusually large number of notable literary figures. Emily Dickinson was an Amherst native who spent her entire life as a town resident. Noah Webster, of Webster's dictionary fame, lived in the town, as did 20th century poets Robert Frost and Robert Francis and 19th century poet Eugene Field.

Attractions in and around Amherst

Amherst and its surrounding area are alive with many venues for cultural, artistic, musical, and theatrical expression. The Dickinson Homestead, birthplace and lifelong residence of poet Emily Dickinson, is now the site of the Emily Dickinson Museum. The Theodore Baird Residence is noteworthy for its architecture, which bears the stamp of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The Fine Arts Center, located on the University of Massachusetts campus, is a hub of visual and performing arts, housing a large collection of artistic exhibits and hosting a wide range of musical, dance, and theatrical events. The Amherst History Museum features period rooms and special exhibits, and offers programs and events for all ages. The Pratt Museum of Natural History, located on the Amherst College campus, houses a comprehensive collection of artifacts including fossils, minerals, and geological items.

The University of Massachusetts athletic teams, known as the Minutemen, belong to the Atlantic Ten Conference (and the Hockey East Association). Beginning in 2007, the University's football team (along with the other Atlantic Ten football teams) will switch its conference affiliation to the newly-formed Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). The Minutemen compete in NCAA's Division I-A (Division I-AA for football). UMass has been especially prominent in the sport of basketball, having held the number one ranking in national polls for extended periods during the 1990s. Notable alumni include former NBA superstar Julius Erving.

Pro sports can be found about 30 minutes west in the city of Springfield, home to the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League (AHL). The adjacent town of West Springfield is home to the Massachusetts Twisters of the American Indoor Soccer League (AISL). The city of Boston, about 90 minutes away, is home to Major League Baseball's Boston Red Sox, the National Hockey League's Boston Bruins, the National Basketball Association's Boston Celtics, and Major League Lacrosse's Boston Cannons.

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High Points

Amherst strengths, compared to Peers (similar size places nationally) or State (other places in Massachusetts):

Category Trophy
College Educated Adults
(vs. Peers)
Top 1% trophy Amherst College Educated Adults
Walking and Biking to Work
(vs. Peers)
Top 1% trophy Amherst Walking and Biking to Work
Low Property Crime
(vs. Peers)
Top 3% trophy Amherst Low Property Crime
Racial Diversity
(vs. State)
Top 5% trophy Amherst Racial Diversity
Short Commute Times
(vs. State)
Top 5% trophy Amherst Short Commute Times
Public Transportation Use
(vs. Peers)
Top 14% Amherst Public Transportation Use

Comparative Profile of Amherst, Massachusetts

Comparing Amherst to similar size places nationwide (Peers) and to other places in Massachusetts (State):

Ratings range from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest).

The People

Characteristic Compared
to Peers
to State
Well-Paid Single Women 8 7
Female Share of the Population 7 7
Racial Diversity 6 10
Well-Paid Single Men 5 2
Male Share of the Population 4 4
Senior Citizens 2 1
Children Under 5 Years Old 1 1
Age of the Population 1 1


Characteristic Compared
to Peers
to State
Average Household Size 4 3
Portion of People Married 1 1


Characteristic Compared
to Peers
to State
College Educated Adults 10 10
Median Family Income 7 5
People in Middle Class or Better 3 1
People Above Poverty 2 1

Commute & Sprawl

Characteristic Compared
to Peers
to State
Walking and Biking to Work 10 10
Working at Home 10 8
Public Transportation Use 9 9
Short Commute Times 9 10


Characteristic Compared
to Peers
to State
Studio & One-Bedroom Rentals 9 10
Seasonal and Vacation Housing 9 5
People Living Alone 7 8
Housing Recently Built 6 8
Affordability of Rents 5 5
Affordability of Property Taxes 2 2


Characteristic Compared
to Peers
to State
Low Property Crime 10 7
Low Violent Crime 9 5

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Amherst Almanac

Category Value
Nearest Medium City 16 miles N of Chicopee, Massachusetts (center to center)
Nearest Large City 74 miles W of Boston, Massachusetts
County Hampshire
Metro Area Springfield
Standard Zip Codes 01002
P.O. Box Zip Codes 01003, 01004, 01059
Phone Area Codes 413
Time Zone Eastern (-5 hours from GMT)
Daylight Savings The city observes Daylight Saving Time.
Latitude 42.38
Longitude -72.523

Amherst Climate

Nearest Weather Stations

  • Temp ranges are avg daily min and max for the month
  • Precipitation is rainfall (and rainfall equiv of snowfall)
Distance 0.5 miles
Jan Temp 11 to 33 F
Apr Temp 34 to 58 F
Jul Temp 59 to 83 F
Oct Temp 36 to 62 F
Annual Precip 45.5 inches
Distance 21.8 miles
Jan Temp 11 to 29 F
Apr Temp 33 to 52 F
Jul Temp 58 to 78 F
Oct Temp 37 to 57 F
Annual Precip 48.7 inches
Station CHESTER 2
Distance 24.2 miles
Jan Temp 7 to 31 F
Apr Temp 33 to 60 F
Jul Temp 57 to 86 F
Oct Temp 34 to 64 F
Annual Precip 61.6 inches
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Amherst Population (2000)

Category Count Percent
Total Population 34,874 100%
Male 16,764 48.1%
Female 18,110 51.9%
Under 18 4,476 12.8%
18+ 30,398 87.2%
65+ 2,314 6.6%
Median Age 21.8
Average Family Size 2.97
White 27,665 79.3%
African-American 1,780 5.1%
Asian 3,144 9%
American Indian & Alaskan 74 0.2%
Other 1,009 2.9%
Mixed Race 1,169 3.4%
Hispanic (included in categories above) 2,159 6.2%

Estimated Amherst Population Growth 2000-2005

Category Value
Est. 2005 Population 34,047
Growth -827
Growth % -2.4%

Amherst Ancestry

(From 2000 Census, as reported by individuals)

Note: This is national, not racial, ancestry, so, e.g., the Census doesn't have categories for Hispanic and African-American people. CityTownInfo is currently gathering additional ancestry data for this site.
Ancestry Percent
Other (often includes Hispanic and African American) 23.3%
Irish 14.3%
English 9.2%
Italian 9%
German 6.8%
Polish 4.6%
French Canadian 3.7%
Russian 3.5%
French (except Basque) 3.2%
US/American 1.9%
Scottish 1.9%
European 1.8%
Swedish 1.6%
Scotch-Irish 1.6%
Portuguese 1.1%
Lithuanian 0.9%
Eastern European 0.8%
Dutch 0.8%
British 0.8%
Norwegian 0.7%
Armenian 0.5%
African 0.5%
Turkish 0.4%
Hungarian 0.4%
Greek 0.4%
Welsh 0.4%
Canadian 0.4%
Finnish 0.3%
Austrian 0.3%
Iranian 0.3%
Cape Verdean 0.3%
Haitian 0.3%
Nigerian 0.3%
Danish 0.3%
Slovak 0.2%
Yugoslavian 0.2%
Israeli 0.2%
Swiss 0.2%
Iraqi 0.2%
Jamaican 0.2%
Lebanese 0.2%
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Neighborhood and Nearby Area Names

According to the US Postal Service, Amherst, its neighborhoods, and/or surrounding areas are also referred to as:

Cushman (01002)

Note that not all alternate names are acceptable for use in US Post Office addresses.

Nearby Cities and Towns

Location Pop. Median Family
Income (2000)
Amherst 34,874 $61,237
Hadley 4,793 $61,897
Hatfield 3,249 $61,607
Leverett 1,663 $73,333
Pelham 1,403 $71,667
Sunderland 3,777 $53,021
Whately 1,573 $66,488

Amherst Public Libraries

Jones Library, Inc.
Amherst, Massachusetts
(413) 256-4090
Library Web Site

library logo

More Information for Librarians

Starbucks in Amherst

(As of 2005)
71 North Pleasant Street
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Amherst High Schools (2004)

Title I eligible, not participating.
Serves 1,378 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 13.5

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City, State Similarity   1 Person Houses 65+ College Grads Commute Minutes Family Income Kids 0-4 Non White Pop. Poverty Prop. Crime Seasonal Housing Viol. Crime
      loose loose loose loose loose loose loose loose loose loose loose loose
1. State College, Pennsylvania 91.9   33.4% 5.8% 69.2% 15 $54,949 1.8% 15.7% 38,420 46.9% 24.9 0.7% 1.3
2. Blacksburg, Virginia 90.5   26.8% 4.9% 64.2% 15 $51,810 2.9% 15.6% 39,573 43.2% 15.3 0.4% 1.4
3. Brockport, New York 86.8   28.2% 7.7% 36.5% 19 $50,828 3.2% 8.2% 8,103 19.2% 20.2 0.4% 2.3
4. Edinboro, Pennsylvania 83.9   29.5% 6.8% 54.4% 18 $48,516 3% 7.7% 6,950 34.4% 20.6 3.9% 1.2
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Historic Amherst


Psi Upsilon House (Amherst College) c1908.

Select a photo to view (Source):

Psi Upsilon House (Amherst College) c1908.

Phi Kappa Psi House (Amherst College) between 1900 and 1910

Phi Gamma Delta House (Amherst College) between 1900 and 1910

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